Retrograde - Group Exhibition: Curated by Cusson Cheng

Retrograde - Group Exhibition

Curated by Cusson Cheng


Opening: 16 June 2022, Thursday, 5-8pm

Exhibition Period: 16 June - 13 August 2022


Participating Artists:

Ivana Bašić, Jes Fan, Dew Kim, Green Mok, Naraphat Sakarthornsap, Tseng Chien-Ying, Floryan Varennes, Luis Xertu, Xu Guanyu, Rachel Youn, Stella Zhang


Galerie du Monde is delighted to present the group exhibition Retrograde curated by Cusson Cheng. Different from other LGBTQ-themed exhibitions that emphasize the pride and visibility of sexual minorities, Retrograde raises questions on the costs of the contemporary move to the mainstream in lesbian and gay culture. The exhibition contests the dominant heteronormative logic of desire, the homogeneous models of gay modern identities, and proposes alternative ways of thinking that allow one to radically reimagine queer histories, subjectivities, and futures. The curator invites eleven local and international contemporary artists who come from eight nationalities and currently reside in seven countries to participate in the exhibition, with more than half debuting in Asia.


Inspired by astrology, the exhibition title references the retrograde motion of planets which represents an exception or even a challenge to the sense of normalcy. Such planets depart from the main highway altogether — they are seekers or explorers who travel the celestial byways in search of something not available on the main highway. Similarly, the participating artists identify and comprehend the underlying concerns of queer modernity, envision queer subjectivities beyond the grand narrative, and regard ‘queer’ as a melting pot of poststructural, postmodern, postcolonial, and ‘postpatriarchal’ methodologies to truly ‘queer’ the queer.


Ivana Bašić's (b. 1986 in Belgrade, Serbia) sculptures consider the chrysalis as an event of potential liberation for human subjects from any identity politics and human ontologies, adopting the insectile metamorphosis to transform the body from within, embodying how queer praxis can implode the strictures of subjecthood.


Jes Fan’s (b. 1990 in Scarborough, Canada) hormone-infused sculpture questions the constructed idea of familial structure and kinship by maneuvering scientific and biotechnological domains to juxtapose artificial and natural, attempting to destabilize the concept of human intimacy.


Dew Kim's (b. 1985 in Seoul, South Korea) video work and sculpture focus on how chastity training in the BDSM community allows the practitioners to transport and expand sexual desires by renouncing genital arousal and eroticizing the anus. This leads to a deconstruction of the signified body and creates a new language of sexuality that is beyond the phallocentric order.


Green Mok’s (b. 1987 in Hong Kong) photographs reveal how gay cruising with the aid of modern technology becomes a contemporary subversion of highly neoliberal and privatized public spaces in Hong Kong.


Naraphat Sakarthornsap (b. 1991 in Bangkok, Thailand) uses flower arrangements and floral symbology in his photographs that are taken in various locales of his Bangkok apartment to visualize and reveal the omnipresence of queerness.


Tseng Chien-Ying (b. 1987 in Nantou County, Taiwan) incorporates Eastern art-making techniques and Western stylistic references to explore societal discipline and biopolitical control. His paintings prompt viewers to ruminate how the queers ‘in retrograde motion’ are wronged and persecuted by history and the grand narrative.


Floryan Varennes’ (b. 1988 in La Rochelle, France) sculptures and installations investigate the notion of institutional and systemic care, and focus on the discarnate, diaphanous violence paradoxically suffered by queer bodies in the homonormative regime.


Luis Xertu's (b. 1985 in Mexico City, Mexico) paintings reimagine the notion of melancholia as an anti-hero or anti-climax logic of queer remembrance and memorialization. They prompt the viewers to rethink how Western mainstream gay and lesbian culture appropriates, exploits, and silences non-West queer voices.


Xu Guanyu (b. 1993 in Beijing, China) employs the collage technique in his photography, creating spatio-temporal compressed tableaux that are embedded with personal and intimate narratives, capturing the disruption of the norms of sexuality, cultural hegemony, and nationalism, and highlighting the artist’s conflicting diasporic identity.


Rachel Youn's (b. 1994 in Pennsylvania, United States) kinetic sculptures made of second-hand massagers and artificial plants present the bounded relationship between queerness and failure. Presented against the soundscape of Hong Kong queer pop music, the works deepen the exploration of queer failure vis-a-vis Hong Kong – a city that has always been trapped in between.


Stella Zhang’s (b. 1965 in Beijing, China) paintings queer the notion of feminism through a masochistic process of unbecoming, which presents a potential alternative of womanhood that is incomprehensible within Western normative feminist discourse.


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About Cusson Cheng


Cusson Cheng is a curator and art critic from Hong Kong. He has been Assistant Curator at Para Site since January 2021, where he has worked on exhibitions including Curtain (2021), Liquid Ground (2021), Noble Rot (2021–2022), and Minding the G(r)a(s)p (2022). He is currently organizing his first major exhibition at Para Site, which will open in late 2022. He was also one of the candidates for the 2019 Para Site International Conference & Workshops for Emerging Professionals. In addition to his curatorial work, Cheng serves as Art Editor at the Hong Kong-based leading Chinese-language art periodical Art and Piece (美紙). He has interviewed internationally renowned artists, including Marina Abramović, Pipilotti Rist, Daniel Arsham, Nicolas Party, and Genieve Figgis. He is frequently invited by galleries and organizations to write exhibition reviews, including Korean artist Lee Bae's solo presentation at Perrotin, Hong Kong. Cheng received his BA with Honours in comparative literature, sociology, and Buddhist studies from the University of Hong Kong.